Apple's shares have taken a big hit in 2024, with sentiment surrounding the iPhone 15 down compared to the iPhone 14 and iPhone 13 perhaps playing a part of it.
Apple's start to 2024 hasn't been great for its shares, with a 6% drop in the first week, notes J.P. Morgan in a Monday note seen by AppleInsider. This reduction is apparently down to "building pessimism around a lack of momentum in iPhone sales."
For 2023, iPhone revenues declined 2% year-on-year according to the analysts, and it started weakly with an 8% iPhone revenue decline in the first quarter.
In 2024, there's a different setup, with Apple guiding to iPhone revenue growth for the first quarter. This is combined with JPM's "flat" iPhone revenue forecast embedding modest year-on-year declines from the second quarter.
Without discounting the competitive threat Huawei poses to Apple, JPM still believes Apple's rival will have a steady ramp, and that its impact is already being included in forecasts of limited iPhone revenue growth for 2024.
Even so, there should be iPhone revenue upside for the first quarter "to change the linearity of the de-rating" of Apple's shares. JPM expects a 25x multiple to be the floor valuation, with multiple years of iPhone revenue expectations "settling out in the flattish range."
However, while there's a recent increase in concerns around iPhone 15 momentum, JPM sees a "positive set up into earnings with supply chain feedback indicating robust C4Q23 iPhone units and only modest downside to C1Q24 iPhone units."
The supply chain apparently believes there to be 85 million iPhone unit builds in the fourth calendar quarter of 2023, with 48 million in the first quarter of 2024 pointing to unit sales in the high 70 million range for Q4 2023 against a consensus of 74 million units.
J.P. Morgan rates Apple as Overweight with a price target of $225.
JPM's comments follow after Piper Sandler downgraded Apple to "Neutral" over concerns of handset and macro weakness in 2024.